European Parliament Press releases

French clinging to indiscriminate communications data retention violates fundamental rights

The French “Conseil d’Etat” court decided today to uphold the collection of information on everybody’s contacts and movements for 12 months due to a “threat to national security”, referring to an elevated risk of terrorist attacks and foreign espionage. It also allowed these data to be used for general law enforcement purposes.

Member of the European Parliament and civil liberties advocate Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) sharply criticizes the judgment:

“Upholding the blanket collection of everybody’s metadata basically makes us naked in the system and fundamentally violates EU law. Indiscriminately collecting sensitive information about social contacts (including business contacts), movements and the private lives (e.g. contacts with physicians, lawyers, workers councils, psychologists, helplines, etc.) of millions of citizens that are not suspicious of any wrongdoing is a radical measure of mass surveillance.

Only in exceptional situations such as an imminent terrorist attack has the EU Court allowed to temporarily impose blanket data retention, but the French judgment is making it the norm and permanent. This perverts the EU jurisprudence on protecting our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

I call on our French friends to challenge this decision and French exceptionalism. Blanket data retention creates intolerable risks of abuse and loss of confidential information relating to our contacts, movements and interests. Let’s make sure that liberty prevails, not generalised suspicion and fear.”

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